Vietnamese Cuisine: Diverse due its Geography and Climate

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Vietnamese Foods. Vietnamese cuisine can be very diverse due its geography and climate. There is no accurate average temperature for the whole country. The Vietnamese national culture emerged from a concrete living environment: a tropical country with many rivers and the confluence of great cultures (Vietnam Country). Vietnam is a long, narrow country in Southeast Asia that borders South China, east of Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam is practically the size of Italy and Japan put together and is divided into three regions: north, central, and south.

Vietnam has a variety of types of food for every occasion, from an everyday meal to New Year’s festivities food. The flavor of the Vietnamese food varies from sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. However, rice, the mainstay of the Vietnamese diet, is grown throughout the country but particularly in the Red River delta in the north and Mekong River delta in the south. As Vietnam’s population started to increase, farmers had to produce quicker as well, making Vietnam the third country to produce the most rice.

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In fact, the Vietnamese people say that their country resembles a bamboo pole (the narrow central region) with a basket of rice at each end. (Food in Vietnam) Rice is eaten almost every day in the Vietnamese diet. Even though three-fourths of country is either a hill or mountain, the long waterway along the country provides a small variety of seafood like fish or shrimp. Among the variety of sauces, the most famous and popular sauce is called nuoc mam and it is called fish sauce in English. Of course the name “fish sauce” doesn’t sound too pleasant, but the taste is irreplaceable.

Fish sauce is a liquid condiment derived from fish that are ferment. The most common fish to make fish sauce in Vietnam is anchovies. Fish sauce has its unique salty taste. There are variety ways of using this sauce. This fish sauce is also commonly used as a dipping sauce as ketchup is in America. The dipping fish sauce would be diluted with other ingredients like: boiled water, sugar, a little vinegar, lime, and some peppers. Another way fish sauce can be used is to balance out some of Vietnam’s delicious cuisine. Some say that fish sauce is their secret recipe.

Pho is the most popular dish among the Vietnamese society. What is pho? Well Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, but there are two type of common pho and that is Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) and Pho Ga (chicken soup). Pho Bo is beef broth and that is made by the stewing of cow bones in a large pot for quite some time. Pho Ga is very similar to Pho Bo. Instead of beef broth, it is made of chicken broth and that is made from stewing chicken. The noodle itself is made from varieties of rice. However, the ingredients and toppings may vary a slight bit in the North and the South.

And that is topped with numerous herbs like: lime, bean sprout, mint leaves, basil green onions, and several other vegetables or fruit. This dish is absolutely refreshing and warming for the soul. With the brutal cold, pho was home of the North. Pho is normally eaten for breakfast, but many people eat it at lunch, or even dinner. The spiciest food is in Central Vietnam. Here, everything consists of abundant spices like chili pepper and color foods. The food here is hotter and spicier. Spring rolls and Bun Bo Hue are commonly eaten.

A spring roll contains fresh meat or fish, fruits and vegetables, and then is wrapped in edible rice paper. Bun Bo Hue is a very spicy beef vermicelli noodle. This dish’s broth consists of mainly simmering beef bones and beef shank. As for topping fresh herbs such as cilantro sprigs, diced green onions, lime wedges, raw sliced onions, raw sliced chili or very spicy chili sauce. Southern Vietnamese people prefer simple cooking and using the natural resources. The climate in Southern Vietnam is more productive. The temperature is high all year long, making the growth of crops and farming more accessible.

Therefore, this part of Vietnam is well-known for their fresh vegetables and fruits. The Southern Vietnamese people also prefer seafood. The south has a lot of different dishes and the food has a sweeter taste by adding sugar or coconut milk. Sugar cane is also well grown in the southern part of Vietnam. Cha tom is a popular dish in the south, where the shrimp in wrapped in the sugar cane. Generally in most Vietnamese cooking is healthy and there will always be some sort of fresh ingredient whether it is meat or vegetables.

On a regular day, the Vietnamese like to eat a 3-course meals daily. Most of the time, porridge was eaten for breakfast because it was light and healthy; porridge is a thick rice soup. The typical home style dinner cooking throughout the whole country of Vietnam regularly has steamed white rice, a meat or fish dish, a greens dish, and a soup dish to eat with the steamed white rice. One of the most popular soups is called canh chua; this soup is made of tomatoes, pineapple, fish, shrimp bean sprout, and other herbs. The old Vietnamese tradition is to eat dinner as a family every day.

Each dish is placed in a separate plate or bowl and is then placed in the center of the dinner table. Everyone has their own bowl and chopstick, and then they use their chopsticks to pick the food from the table throughout the meal. Another tradition throughout the country is serving teas in small cup for the guest. Beverages like coffee, beer, and soft drinks were consumed throughout the whole country. Holidays like Tet which is the Vietnamese Lunar New Years, normally occur in February. For this special holiday, there are several festivals hosted every year.

Everyone gathers together to see live Vietnamese singers perform and to enjoy certain food that is made year round;  dishes from Northern, Central, and Southern are combined. Roasted watermelon seeds, colorful sticky rice with meat or bean filling on the inside, sugarcane drinks, candied fruits, and banh chung (one of the most popular cakes eaten around Tet). Banh chung isn’t created by Vietnamese people, it was adopted from the Chinese people, just like the Lunar New Years. This is a square piece of cake is made from pork, beans, sticky rice, and other ingredients.

To cook this, you cut the cake into slices and then fry them. The Vietnamese are also creative with their deserts. Some of their very popular deserts are called “che”, but there are several types of che; most of the time it is prepared with beans, glutinous rice, fruits, and sweetened by sugar. Che is basically like a sweet soup or juice along with other ingredients. Che chuoi and che ba mau is very well known. Che chuoi consists of banana pudding with tiny tapioca pearls and coconut milk. Che ba mau is meaning 3 color desert consists of red beans, yellow beans, and green jelly; served with shaved ice and sweet coconut milk.

Vietnamese culture and food has been influenced with the mixture of both the Chinese and French, getting some of their spices from Chinese and classic cooking from French. Northern Vietnam was more influenced by Chinese because they were closer and ruled Northern Vietnam during the first millennium. Southern Vietnam was more influenced by the French. The French first invaded Da Nang where is located in the south in 1858 and later on the French also ruled Northern Vietnam in 1945. The Chinese were the ones who influence the Vietnamese to eat with chopsticks and a small bowl.

These stir-fried and noodle-based soups, was also an influence from the Chinese cooking. Not only did the French colonize Vietnam, they also had a big influence on the Vietnamese cooking. Pho was not originated by the Vietnamese; it was actually inherited from the French people and that was one of the biggest influences. The original name of Pho is called “Pot au feu” means the pot on the fire, from long hours of stewing the soup. Due to the heavy Vietnamese accent Feu was then pronounced “pho”. French bread, coffee with cream, cakes, and custards were introduced by the French.

Today, Vietnam owns their rights and stays at peace. Over the centuries, Vietnam’s currency has changed a lot. Northern Vietnam used to be the rich region while Southern Vietnam is was the poor region, but now it has balanced out. The style of Vietnamese people living and eating has not changed at all. Vietnam’s major crop was grains; rice was grown throughout the whole country; making rice a major part of the diet. Their ways of eating were very simple. Dinner always had rice, some sort of soup, either meat or fish, and it has to contain some sort of green.

Vietnam is a very diverse country because of its climate and geographic. Northern Vietnam’s favorite course was pho during to their climate. Central Vietnam was very popular for spicy and colorful food. Southern Vietnam was a very important region to Vietnam; numerous fresh fruits and vegetable was developed there because of the decent climate. Sugarcane was also another popular crop in the south, the Vietnamese would use the sugarcane to make nouc me (sweet sugar cane juice); that is made by a machine flattening the round sugar cane.

Tet is a Lunar New Year for the Vietnamese people and that was inherited from the Chinese. During this time of the year a combination of the most popular food throughout the whole country was eating at the festivals; like sweets, sticky rice, and watermelon seeds, and etc. Vietnam has a variety of sweet deserts, but most of the deserts are sweet soups containing beans, sugar, any jelly. Countries like China and France have help shaped Vietnamese people in many ways that include what they eat and how they cook it.

The Mongolians, who are the people from the north that invaded Vietnam, introduced them to beef. Eventually this has become a part Vietnamese people’s diet. An example of this would include “common Vietnamese beef dishes are pho bo (Beef Noodle Soup) and bo bay mon (Beef Cooked Seven Ways)” introduced by the French people. (Vietnam). The Chinese people showed the Vietnamese people techniques such as “stir frying and deep frying, as well as the use of chopsticks” (Vietnam). With the diverse country itself and other countries input, this makes Vietnamese food very unique.

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Vietnamese Cuisine: Diverse due its Geography and Climate. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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